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July 4, 2016

Wisdom from Experience

When Chad Guy, managing partner at Regina, Saskatchewan’s Capitol Staging, set out to buy a stage for his company, he had enough experience to know exactly what he wanted. Guy had already spent 20 years in production management, touring production, and promotions, and there was only one name that sprang to mind for his first investment in a stage: Stageline.

“I’ve used Stageline’s product for years, that was my introduction—using it!” he says. He and Capitol Staging were entering a market notably defined by the absence of competitors in their region.

Or, as Guy puts it, “There was a gap between Thunder Bay and Calgary that could be filled by what we do.” So it was easy for Guy and his partners to see where they could find eager customers for reliable production grounded in decades-long, coast-to-coast relationships.

“We started with a single contract for a summer concert series,” he says. “We jumped in with the SL50 to try it out and see the potential out there for a market. The contract was to do 15 shows a summer for three years, so we just dove in and bought the stage.”

The outlay might have been a risk for a young company, but Guy was already a seasoned pro. Not to mention, he says, the SL50 nearly sold itself: as soon as the small, mobile stage was on the market in the Central Canada area, Capitol Staging’s phone began to ring and didn’t stop.

“We paid the whole stage off that first summer,” he says. “And we saw the potential for what we could do with smaller stages all across Western Canada.”

One year after Capitol Staging bought its first SL50, they decided to get serious. Really serious: they placed a Stageline record for the largest single order, for four more SL50s. But they weren’t done: last year they bought seven stages in total, augmenting their fleet of SL50s with an SL100, and SL100-mix, and an SL320.

“There’s been an SL250 and an SL260 around Saskatchewan for a long time,” he says, “but they were barely enough. Events were always just squeezed onto them. As soon as we brought the SL320 into the market, it immediately took off as a popular festival stage.”

Though Capitol Staging doesn’t do lighting or audio, they call on the strength of their connections to make sure even the most elaborate stages are well-lit and great-sounding.

“And the SL50s are busy all the time,” he says. “They’re in every little community. I’m creating concert tours with these stages—we’re hitting independent record labels and saying, ‘Here’s an SL50. The PA lives inside it. Let’s take your new country artist and do two shows a day.’ We’ll set up in the morning, do a lunch hour show, tear it down, and drive to the next city in time to set it back up and do a 7pm show. Our bread and butter is big festival business, really. But for the SL50s we’re creating events with these stages. Being able to reach little communities as a pop-up event is a great business model.”

Capitol Staging also has the advantage of offering a safe product in an environment where safety and liability are on everyone’s minds. Instead of simply waiting to be hired, Guy and his partners have been approaching cities big and small across the west—he mentions Penticton, BC, Saskatoon, SK, and Winnipeg, MB—and offering to handle the summer concert series or children’s festivals that happen in every town or city.

“They’ve always done these little community stages on the back of a flatbed semi-trailer,” he says, “or they’ve got some little 40-year-old homemade stage. When you offer an affordable solution that’s engineer certified, with a zero-loss, zero-fail history—and it comes with a certified trained tech? Not to mention you can put a proper banner-kit on it and sell that banner to your sponsors. The rental price of an SL50, it’s pretty much a wash in certain scenarios, so why wouldn’t these communities embrace it?”